Serial novels are nothing new, especially in genre fiction designed to keep readers shelling out money for the next phase of a story. But the sudden, rapid success of fantasy genre series like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and the adaptation of Tolkien’s hobbit epics to the big screen has meant publishers want to cash in on the double-XL titles....more
Posts Tagged: The Guardian
Newspaper journalist Samuel Clemens would eventually go on to become novelist Mark Twain. But, Samuel Clemens was something of a story writer too. At the Guardian, Nicky Woolf reports that a scholar at the University of California has discovered and authenticated letters stories written by Twain while he still worked at the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle....more
Margery Kempe, a 15th century mother-of-14 visited by religious visions whose autobiography is considered among the first in the English language, has just gained significant cred. For the first time, historians have been able to verify significant parts of her account, by way of a newly discovered letter apparently written by her son....more
For the Guardian, Nicole Lee reports on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s closing lecture at the PEN World Voices festival, where the Nigerian author expressed concern for the “dangerous silencing” of an American culture that “fears causing offense.” In addition, Adichie encouraged a culture of “listening,” and spoke of the boundaries between writing fiction and contributing to public conversations surrounding contemporary social issues....more
At the Guardian, novelist Julian Barnes shares his experiences developing a taste for art during his childhood, and how modernism worked to change his early impressions of what art could be. In addition, he offers insight as to how modernist art has come to influence his work, as well as the works of Flaubert and Proust....more
The book was, we can now see, crying out for the invention of the web, which would enable the holding of multiple domains of knowledge in the mind at one time that a proper reading requires.
At the Guardian, Billy Mills looks at the love match that is the Internet and Finnegans Wake and has good tidings: hypertext may make the formerly unreadable novel readable....more
Much like the parochial vocabulary it strives to catalogue, the Dictionary of American Regional English is in danger of extinction. A stopgap crowdfunding campaign is currently open to support the project in the short term, but the long-term forecast for the entity protecting such gems as “flumadiddle” (nonsense), “slippery jims” (pickles), and “rantum scooting” (going out with no definite destination) is grim....more
For the Guardian, Megan Quibell argues that climate change has changed dystopian fiction, as many recent dystopian works rely on a “catalyst” that stems from “the destruction of the environment.” The result is a series of books that “hammers home” the reality of climate change, which is “not something for the distant future.”...more
You might say that our blog offers curated literary articles. That might sound pretentious, but not nearly as pretentious as a curated salad, a curated college application, or a curated wine list. The Guardian takes a look at the use, overuse, and history of curation:
The idea of the contemporary curator originates with the conceptual art movement of the 1960s.
Colm Toíbín, author of On Elizabeth Bishop, has a lovely long reflection at the Guardian about Bishop’s friendship with Thom Gunn, and the parallels in the artists’ life and work. Bishop and Gunn both shied away from writing about mentally ill mothers and queer relationships for most of their lives, although Gunn addressed both in the 1990s....more
British novelist David Nicholls believes that book buyers who browse their local shops and then buy books online are basically shoplifters, he tells the Guardian. The author of Us and other novels, Nicholls is a former bookseller himself. He delivered the keynote speech at the London Book Fair’s Digital Minds conference where he lamented that, “a town without a bookshop is missing something.”...more
Lithub, a new web endeavor from Electric Literature with partnerships between publishers, magazines, journals, and existing websites, launched yesterday with the aim of becoming a portal at the center of the literary world. The Guardian caught up with site editor Jonny Diamond who explained how the website hopes to operate:
“The very basic quid pro quo is an ad in exchange for a feature or excerpt.
There are many distractions in the modern world like television and listicles. As a result, people aren’t reading in the same way they did a half century ago, opines Oliver Burkeman at the Guardian. All is not lost. Aside from carrying a book around all the time, Burkeman suggests turning reading into a ritual:
…such ritualistic behaviour helps us “step outside time’s flow” into “soul time”.
Over at the Guardian, Rachel Cooke reflects on her experience as a judge for this year’s Folio prize and shares what reading the eighty submissions revealed to her about the state of British and American fiction:
The British social history novel seems doomed so far as our prize culture goes; impossible to imagine a writer such as David Lodge enjoying the same career today.
Even if we already know our identity, proper representation helps us accept that identity. It’s well-established that negative/no representation has awful effects on self-esteem. When we see no one like us—or when we’re only ever the troubled sibling, never the heroic kid —it sends a message.
Tomas Tranströmer, the beloved Swedish poet and Nobel laureate, has passed away at age 83. Tranströmer was notable for the economy of his work, its quiet optimism, and the insights it brought from the poet’s long career as an industrial psychologist....more
At the Guardian, A.D. Miller wonders why writers struggle to describe the “bonds” of friendship in fiction. What he finds is that close friendships are often difficult to “rationalize” because they limit access to common literary tropes:
Friendship denies writers the shortcuts they enjoy in the portrayal of other ties.
“I hate literature,” wrote Varlam Shalamov in a 1965 letter. “I do not write memoirs; nor do I write short stories.”
Despite his claim, Varlam Shalamov would become one of the most prolific Russian writers, producing 147 short stories about life in the gulag....more
For the Guardian, Moira Redmond considers the prevalence of “misleading” book titles. The article references a number of well-known texts including Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, which Redmond suggests is “sublimely about non-housekeeping.” However, Moira argues that “allusive titles” are not without merit: “They can be intriguing and draw you in....more
Tim Youd has recently undertaken the task of reproducing Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim, but the Guardian says the idea of copying classic novels is not so original; Pierre Menard, a character in a Borges story, did it first:
Although the words themselves were exactly the same, Pierre Menard’s fragmentary Quixote was judged to be “subtler than that of Cervantes”.